Dead Frog Valiant Belgian IPA

dead_frogvaliant-belgian-ipaDead Frog is back with another limited release, arriving on the heels of their Brazen IPA, Winter Beeracle and Fearless IPA. And with the exception of the Brazen, which I have yet to try, these limited releases have been quite impressive, in my opinion. Basically, they show that the spirit of craft brewing and experimentation are alive and well in yet another big Pacific Northwestern brewery.

As for this latest experiment in craft brewing, the Valiant is a twist on your classic Belgian Abbey ale, relying on Belgian yeast and a lengthy fermentation process to achieve a distinctly strong and flavorful ale. At the same time, they’ve incorporated a good dose of hops, the classic Pacific Northwestern IPA varieties of Centennial and Columbus, to achieve a strong bittering effect.

Appearance: Golden-orange, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Distinct Belgian yeast, notes of citrus hops
Taste: Immediate notes of wheat malt and yeast intermixed with hop bitterness 
Aftertaste: Tang and lingering bitterness, traces of Belgian yeast
Overall: 8.5/10

The result is something that is becoming increasingly common here in the Pacific Northwest, a merger between disparate traditions that work great on their own and are… interesting when combined. Like most Belgian IPA’s I’ve had, I found this one a little odd at first, but grew to like it with each sip. In the end, it really captured the essence of a strong Belgian Ale, and the bitter finish offers enough of a compliment without getting in the way.

Dead Frog Fearless IPA

I just got a special delivery… and I do mean special! After liaising with the good folks over at Dead Frog brewery a few weeks ago, I was told to expect some samples of their new Fearless IPA. Today was the day that my samples arrived. Yep, three bottles all wrapped up in bubble wrap and sealed in a paper-wrapped box. The sampling began shortly thereafter…

From the earliest indications, the Fearless looks, smells and pours like a true IPA, with an amber color, a hoppy bouquet, and mild foam retention. However, it is slightly different in that it has a very good clarity, which one does not always find with IPAs. The alcohol content and hop content are also consistent with a Northwestern India Pale, weighing in at a respectable 6.5% per/vol and 77 IBUs.

And then of course comes the interesting hop combination. By using Galaxy, Zythos, Cascade and Columbus hops, the brewmasters were clearly going for a unique combination of sweet and robust. The former two strands are Australian and a combination variety that are known for achieving a tropical fruit taste and smell. The latter two are well-known amongst beer drinkers as being what gives Northwestern Pale Ales and IPA’s their citrusy profile. The end result is what one might describe as a rippling effect of flavor.

Appearance: Crystal clear, good amber hue, mild foam
Nose: Citrus notes and hints of pineapple and passion fruit
Taste: Immediate burst of bitterness and malt giving way to citrus and slight sweetness
Aftertaste: Lingering piney flavor, intermittent pineapple
Overall: 8/10

As it stands, this is the third IPA that I’ve sampled from Dead Frog, all of which are only available in the 650ml bottle. First there was their limited release Fusion Hop, followed shortly thereafter by the Citra IPA. Of the three, I think this one ranks the highest. Many beers get bonus marks for experimentation, but this beer gets its marks for being an experiment done right. And just in case people were wondering, absolutely no marks were given for home delivery! 😉 Kudos Dead Frog, congratulation on a fine product and thanks for the sample!